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Archive for October, 2013

Mariton: Fall Progression

By Tim Burris, Preserve Manager. Photos by Carole Mebus.

Mariton’s palette has changed with another week’s passing.  Our forest has a lot of yellows and oranges from the birches and tuliptrees.  We also have an array from burgundy to banana in the sassafras.  The oaks are just beginning to change. We are still showing a lot of green in our forest.  The colors complement each other, but in most places don’t overwhelm.  It is a little more subtle.

When one is observant they will see there are the splashes of color like a spray of red maple in front of trees that still carry green leaves.

 MEBUS RedMapleMaritonWoods1029

Here a cobalt sky is the backdrop for a lone hickory tree.

 MEBUS HickoryLeavesMariton1029

These red viburnum berries are vibrant in the Mariton’s fall woods.

 MEBUS ViburnumBerriesMaritonWoods1029

Finally the tone poem of White Snakeroot seed heads.

MEBUS SnakerootGoneToSeedMaritonTurnpikeTrail1029

Crow’s Nest: Welcome, Liz!

She’s already been here seven weeks, and if you read the Crow’s Nest FaceBook page or attended recent events you’ve already met her. Liz Pascale is our “new” intern, working on land stewardship and environmental education for the next year.

Liz Pascale

Liz is a graduate student at Antioch University in New Hampshire and has been busy cutting invasive plants, grading soil for new plantings, and helping with the WebWalkers/Wanderers/Wigglers programs. If you see her while visiting Crow’s Nest please say hello!

Posted by Daniel Barringer on October 31, 2013.

Mariton: Unexpected Sights

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager.  Photos by Carole Mebus

I never know what will make an appearance on our Nature Walks, but I usually have a few hunches.  On Tuesday, we had two birds that I see occasionally, but that I would hardly expect to show up during a walk.

 MEBUS HermitThrushWoodsEdgeMariton1029

This week, we saw plenty of Hermit Thrushes.  This is a winter bird at Mariton.  The Hermit Thrush (fitting its name) is generally reclusive, skulking in the underbrush where it looks for food.  So, it was a surprise to have so many of them give us a good look.  It took awhile, but Carole got these photos.  What you can’t see in her photos was the tangle of underbrush that this individual was using to hide.

MEBUS HermitThrushWoodsEdgeMariton1029-2

The Hermit Thrush has a beautiful song, but we don’t hear it at Mariton because it breeds just to the north.  You can hear its song by clicking here.  It is well worth a trip to the Poconos in the spring just to hear this bird singing.

 MEBUS HairyWoodpeckerWoodsMariton1029

We also saw a couple Hairy Woodpeckers.  It is true that Hairy Woodpeckers are not as common as the Downy Woodpeckers at Mariton, but they are here year round.  Like the Hermit Thrush they are a little shy of people.  So, while I see them, even at my feeders occasionally, I don’t consider it likely to find them on a bird walk.  On Tuesday, there were two females that were exploring dead snags near the top of the Spruce Trail.  They hung out there for some time and we all got to see them well.  You will notice the Hairy Woodpecker’s long beak.  The beak is the best way to distinguish it from the Downy, which otherwise looks like a smaller version.

So, push away from the keyboard to get out and discover something unexpected.

Crow’s Nest: Another day at the office…


Actually, it was after work yesterday that I decided to investigate the newly-flooded beaver wetland by boat. I borrowed a kayak (thanks, Pete!) and paddled around for an hour. It’s not a large area, and certainly not a major recreation spot, but I did see mallards and wood ducks and enjoyed the different perspective of being low to the water in a landscape I am usually walking around above.

Posted by Daniel Barringer on October 30, 2013.

Crow’s Nest: They’re baaaack!


After a few years without beavers in this section of French Creek (but apparent both upstream and downstream) beavers have once again built a dam on French Creek at Crow’s Nest.

The level of the creek has gradually risen and a difficult bushwhack gets you back to this spot where there is a narrow dam with a three foot fall. I haven’t seen the architects themselves yet this time. The habitat created by beavers the last time they were here, including acres of trees that died due to their flooding, has been a real benefit to wildlife on the preserve.

Posted by Daniel Barringer on October 29, 2013.

Crow’s Nest: One of these does not belong…


Meet the prescribed grazing crew at Crow’s Nest for 2013. Duffy the goat blends in pretty well with the Jersey steers, and is holding his own with the big guys. We just moved them this weekend to their winter pastures, so the “prescribed” part of their grazing—for wildlife habitat improvement—is finished until next spring. We’ll be working in these habitats ourselves this winter, removing the red maples and multiflora rose that shade out the desired vegetation. I view our work as being in partnership with theirs; there’s no way we could do it all ourselves, and yet working together we can improve their summer pastures for wildlife as well as for suitable grazing and browsing.

Posted by Daniel Barringer on October 28, 2013.

Crow’s Nest sunset


Here is tonight’s sunset from the preserve. I like that autumn evenings are relatively mild, that the cold of frost doesn’t settle until morning. These mornings feel bitterly cold but will be mild by midwinter standards.We are catching up on vine control at the preserve and preparing the preserve for winter.

Posted by Daniel Barringer on October 28, 2013.

Mariton: Hurricane Sandy Walk

By Tim Burris, Preserve Manager.  Photos by Carole Mebus

This Sunday, we will be taking a walk on Mariton’s trails to look at the changes left after Hurricane Sandy.  Nearly one year ago Sandy pushed over swaths of trees in Mariton’s woods.  It was a pretty impressive display of nature’s power.  We will take a look at the how the forest has changed after the clean up and what changes we might expect to see in the future. The walk is from 1 – 4 p.m. and will begin with some before and after photos.

Here is a view from the Turnpike Trail that has not been available for probably 30 years.  This is the Riegelsville Bridge on the New Jersey side of the River.  While you need binoculars to see this, it is quite visible now that several trees are missing from the skyline.

MEBUS RiegelsvilleRoeblingBridgeAsSeenFromTurnpikeTrail1022

Mariton: Fall Black and White

By Tim Burris, Preserve Manager.  Photos by Carole Mebus.

While the fall colors may not be quite as brilliant as other years, there are still lots of interesting things to see out there.  On Tuesday’s walk Carole, took some photos of flowers that have long faded, yet are extremely interesting.  For instance take a look at this Milkweed seed pod.  Only a few months ago it was covered with butterflies and pollinators seeking its nectar.  Now it is an interactive still life that continually changes with the breeze and light.

 MEBUS MilkweedGoneToSeedMaritonField1022

How about these Monarda seed heads below?  The patches of this lovely pale purple flower attracted butterflies during the heat of summer, but now they stand with heads held high.  Their sturdy stems will keep the heads and seeds available for animals even after a snowfall.

MEBUS MonardaSeedHeadsMaritonField1022

While we think about leaf colors during Autumn, there are lots of other reasons to get outside and drink in the season.

Mariton: Tuesday Walk

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager.  Photos by Carole Mebus.

We had a wonderful morning on Tuesday for the weekly Nature Walk.  The fall colors are coming along.  In parts of the meadows the colors are close to peak.  In other parts of Mariton, we have another week or so before things really brighten up.  I don’t think this year is going to be a super year for fall color in our area, but it will certainly be a super fall to get outside and take a walk.

We spent most of the morning looking at birds.  I admit several eluded us, including an interesting warbler that we were unable to identify.  Robins were everywhere and laughing quite happily as they jumped from one wild grape tangle to another.  We saw a few White-throated Sparrows and several birds flitting in the tall weeds that were probably White-throats.  The White-throats were singing their beautiful song that I generally only hear in the winter (because they breed farther north).

MEBUS CedarWaxwingMaritonFields1022

We ran into a bunch of Cedar Waxwings in the corner of one of the fields.  This has always been a birdy corner.  The one above even posed on a dead snag for Carole’s camera.

MEBUS RCKingletMaritonFields RE  1022

We also got to watch a Ruby-crowned Kinglet for some time.  It never stayed still, but everyone got a good look at it.  Even more amazing is that Carole got a photo of this non-stop bird.

I mentioned before how much I like the Crossley Bird Book.  It shows lots of photos for each species in different poses and in different ages.  Field guides do a great job of presenting a composite of a species, but there is a lot of variation within a species; especially at this time of year.  Here are two photos that show the short comings of most field guides.  In the end, experience counts volumes.  (Photos that you can analyze really help also!)

MEBUS RedBelliedWoodpeckerMaritonFields1022

You can almost make out the “red belly” on this Red-bellied Woodpecker, but it would be tough to identify this bird with a standard field guide.

MEBUS YellowBelliedSapsuckerJuvMariton1022-3

This is a great shot of a male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, but not a classic representative of the species.

The last walk of the series will be held Tuesday, October 29.  If the weather cooperates, the fall colors should be even better than this week.


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